The Kelly Walsh girls soccer team enters this year’s state tournament looking eerily similar to last season’s squad.
Following a successful regular season, the Trojans entered the Class 4A West Regioinal as one of the top two seeds. A heart-breaking semifinal loss later, they crushed their third-place opponent to earn the No. 3 seed at state.
Last year, that tale ended with a 2-0 loss to Cheyenne East in the quarterfinals before being bumped out of the consolation bracket the next day.
The Trojans enter this weekend’s Wyoming State High School Class 4A Girls Soccer Championship once again as the No. 3 seed and with rewriting history on their minds. It’s a tall order, considering East No. 2 seed Cheyenne Central has been one of the top two teams in the state throughout the season.
In order to advance into Friday’s semifinals, the Trojans’ youth will have to play in sync and make the most of every opportunity. And they are capable of that.
The forward tandem of junior Nicole Klungness (14) and freshman Melicia McIntyre (3) has combined for 17 goals. The midfield group of senior Abree Hill, juniors Noelle Vigneri and Kylie Spangler and freshman Barrett Lloyd played strong throughout the conference season. Lloyd even joined the scoring mix, scoring the majority of her five goals in the first month of the season. Senior Lyndi Miller and freshman Paige Hill have helped provide depth off the bench.
While the Trojans’ defense has struggled at times, they do have five shutouts. The centerback senior duo of Irie Elliott and Kendal Chipperfield gives the Trojans a mix of finesse and strength on the back line. Freshman goalkeeper Alyssa Depoorter has played strong in net, making the fifth-most saves in 4A with 74.
There’s little doubt the goal-scoring Central team of Makyleigh Howard (23 goals), Faith Meredith (14) and Ainsley Basich (11) will test the Trojans’ defense. It’s how the Trojans counter that will determine their success.
Central starting goalkeeper Miranda Hinkle has only faced 46 shots on goal all year, 10 of which ended in the back of the net. The Trojans may not have many opportunities, so they’ll need to capitalize when they can.
Or else it’s deja vu for another year.